Special session planned on rail

HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers plan to hold a special session this summer to discuss funding for Honolulu’s troubled rail line.

Senate President Ronald Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki sent a joint letter to the executive director of the Federal Transit Administration stating the Legislature’s commitment to convene a special session in July or August.

They hope to find a way to create a revenue stream so the City and County of Honolulu can complete the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz commended the lawmakers.

“It is important that state and local governments continue to work together to ensure funding obligations under the full funding agreement will be met so that work on rail will be completed as agreed,” he said.

The rail project faces a funding shortfall of as much as $3 billion.

The federal government is waiting for the city to explain how it will close the funding gap.

If a viable plan isn’t presented soon, the FTA could pull its promised $1.55 billion from the project and demand the return of more than $700 million in federal dollars already spent.

The state Legislature ended its regular session in May without agreeing on a way to fully fund the project, which could cost up to $10 billion.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report

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